From childhood dreams to UN Global Goals: Financial tools are key

Why we’re focused on an inclusive financial system that works for everyone

Jim meeting with Yuhua Zhao, a small business client of Accion partner Grassland Finance in Chifeng, China.

“Nobody — when they were five years old — said, ‘when I grow up, I want a bank account or I want a mortgage,’” says Accion’s Jim Rosenberg in his recent interview on The Wharton School’s radio program, Dollars and Change. But, as Jim goes on to explain, kids do dream of getting a bike, going to university eventually, and someday even owning a house. While no one romanticizes savings and loans and credit cards, financial tools help us reach our dreams.

This interview originally aired on Sirius XM Channel 111, Business Radio Powered by The Wharton School.

Spreading the world about financial inclusion in New York City, blocks from the United Nations.

Spreading the world about financial inclusion in New York City, blocks from the United Nations.

Inclusive Finance Is a Means to an End

While a child may dream of going to college, the United Nations has even loftier ambitions. The UN’s Sustainable Development Goals hope to tackle poverty and ensure prosperity for all. To achieve these goals, the United Nations is going to need more than just a student loan — it needs a whole suite of financial tools. Otherwise, these goals are unreachable.

“How could we possibly get clean water, sustainable agriculture, girls in schools — all these things — if people don’t have a way to manage their lives in a predictable and sustainable way,” Jim says. Financial inclusion isn’t the end goal — it’s the foundation that enables people around the world to build a better future for their families and businesses.

Giving People Financial Products and Services That Work for Them

“At Accion, what we’re really focused on is a financial system that works for everyone, and having a range of high-quality, affordable financial services for everybody,” says Jim. To achieve this goal, we’ve worked with 90 partners in 40 countries.

Our partners include major players like BancoSol in Bolivia, the first microfinance institution to become a private commercial bank, and startups working on pioneering technologies, like Konfio in Mexico, which uses electronic invoices to analyze cash flow and provide loans to small and medium businesses.

To make sure our partners succeed, we offer services that go beyond financial investment to help them build their businesses — whether they’re an established institution looking to make a digital transformation or a startup looking to find their market.

As we work to reach the 3 billion people who aren’t getting what they need from the financial system, we will continue to advance our approach and look for new solutions. From mobile payments to blockchain, as Jim points out, we’re always interested in “the technologies that make people’s lives better.”

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